Paradise (1982 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stuart Gillard
Produced by Robert Lantos
Stephen J. Roth
Written by Stuart Gillard
Music by Paul Hoffert
Cinematography Adam Greenberg
Edited by Howard Terrill
Distributed by New World Pictures (Canada)
Avco Embassy Pictures (U.S.)
Release date
  • May 7, 1982 (1982-05-07)
Running time
100 minutes
Country Canada
Language English
Budget CA$3.5 million
Box office $5,588,800 (United States)[1]

Paradise is a 1982 Canadian romance adventure film starring Phoebe Cates and Willie Aames, written and directed by Stuart Gillard. The original music score was composed by Paul Hoffert with the theme song written and produced by Joel Diamond and L. Russell Brown and sung by Phoebe Cates.[2]

It was critiqued at the time as a "knockoff" of the more-famous The Blue Lagoon (1980). The film was marketed with "If Only It Could Have Been Forever... Paradise... No Two People Have Ever Come So Close."[3]

The films' themes were similar: Two young people find themselves abandoned in a world with no adult supervision, in fact no other people anywhere. Thus they have total freedom, inevitably learning all about love and sex, as well as basic survival techniques.

Leonard Maltin's annual Movie Guide book describes it this way: "Rating: star and a half. Silly Blue Lagoon ripoff, with Aames and Cates discovering sex while stranded in the desert. Both, however, do look good sans clothes."[4] Upon its release, when reviewed on the show Sneak Previews, Roger Ebert selected it as his "Dog of the Week", the worst film he saw that week and heavily berated it.[5]

The film was rated "R" for nudity and sexuality.[6] The film genre was described as "exotic teen" (a teen film set in exotic locations) which began with The Blue Lagoon in 1980. The song "Paradise" was one of the leaders of the pop music hit parade around the world for a long time, becoming one of the biggest hits of the 1980s and giving resultant fame to the film, more so than the reverse.

Plot summary[edit]

The Georgian era, 1823: David (Aames) and Sarah (Cates), two teenagers, travel with a caravan from Baghdad to Damascus. At an oasis, the white slave agent 'Jackal' raids them, mainly to add the beautiful young Sarah to his harem. David and Sarah and her servant, Geoffrey, narrowly escape, but all the others are slain in the massacre including David's American missionary parents. However, Geoffrey doesn't survive long, as he sees an encampment that, unbeknownst to him, is run by the Jackal. Geoffrey goes to the encampment seeking help but is killed by the Jackal as the remaining duo takes a rest in a nearby enclave on their westerly direction toward civilization.[7]

Sarah and David's flight leads them to a beautiful oasis—their peaceful place in paradise—where they discover natural love and their sexuality. However, the Jackal has not given up on Sarah yet, and David must lure him to his death, or be killed by him.

In the film's ending, David confronts the Jackal and is able to kill him. Sarah reveals to David that she is pregnant and the two young lovers have finally reached civilization, the city of Damascus.



Producers of the film, Robert Lantos and Stephen J. Roth first selected Aames and later after a screen test agreed on Cates for the role of Sarah.[8] The film marked Cates' acting debut, who was 17 years old at the time of filming, that followed her modeling career. Cates had a starring role in the film, which involved her in several full nude scenes. Cates was also selected for the production of the film to sing the movie's theme song.[9] The film was shot on location at various settings in Israel including Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and Sea of Galilee.[7][10]

During production, Aames and Cates both decided that the film did not need as much nudity as the script set out.[11] In interviews, Aames and Cates claimed that "the producer (Lantos) went back to Canada and used somebody else in the shots.[12] They weren't in the version of the film they showed us for approval. When I finally got to see the final print months later, I flipped."[11] Lantos responded to this by saying that it was up to himself and the distributor to decide on how the final print would be, not up to any of the actors. He furthermore claimed that "99% of it was what Willie and Phoebe shot."[11]

Nevertheless, Aames agreed to promote the film, because he admitted that "aside from those parts that bother me, it's a damn good film."[11] Cates felt differently, and refused to have anything to do with the promotion such as screenings and parties.[12][11] According to Aames, Cates was "really upset" by the film.[11]


Golden Raspberry Awards

Nominated: Worst Actor (Willie Aames)


  1. ^ "'Paradise (1982)' Box Office stats". Box office mojo. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  2. ^ Closing credits of Paradise (1982) VHS (DVD released outside the US)
  3. ^ Paradise (1982) Promotional poster
  4. ^ Maltin, Leonard, Movie Guide, Signet, ISBN 978-0-451-22186-5 .
  5. ^ Sneak Previews review of Paradise
  6. ^ Google News Archive: Baton Rouge News - May 11, 1982
  7. ^ a b "Paradise, An Awakening in the Desert". The New York Times. May 10, 1982. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  8. ^ Paradise Press kit, 'New Eve for Paradise', Embassy Pictures, Published 1982 Retrieved 3/13/10
  9. ^ Closing credits of Paradise (1982)
  10. ^ Paradise Press kit, 'Strangers in Paradise', Embassy Pictures, Published 1982 Retrieved 3/13/10
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Hollywood: Nude scenes too much for Aames" by Marilyn Beck, The Orange County Register (Archives), March 17, 1982. p. C3
  12. ^ a b "Paradise Star Phoebe Cates Hangs Her Own Film with a One-Word Review—'rip-Off'". People. 1982-06-14. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 

External links[edit]